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The Graduate School of Social Sciences

Welcome to the Graduate School of Social Sciences of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam!

Our aim is to provide a stimulating scientific environment in which young researchers, experienced staff and international scholars can mutually inspire one another. VU-GSSS focuses on some of the most pressing challenges to society, related to topics such as societal resilience, integration & diversity and security & conflict. 

VU-GSSS monitors the application and admission procedure, a review procedure at the end of the first year, annual progress reports and the final stages of the PhD, leading to the actual defense. At the same time VU-GSSS stimulates all supervisors to achieve a high quality of supervision through training and annual evaluations by our PhD candidates. 

VU-GSSS organizes a PhD Study Programme providing Phd candidates solid theoretical and methodological knowledge and strengthening academic skills. VU-GSSS favors an adaptive PhD programme in which PhD candidates can flexibly choose their own set of courses and organize small group tutorials from renowned experts on specialized topics.

Doing your PhD at the Faculty of Social Sciences

See the video for more information about the VU Graduate School of Social Sciences. 

More information about VU-GSSS

  • Admission

    There are two ways in which PhD candidates can be admitted to VU-GSSS:

    1. Through recruitment as an employee (internal) PhD candidate. Available PhD positions are advertised in different ways, including on the VU website and as an internationally advertised call on Academic Transfer, on behalf of an already determined supervisor(y) team. During the selection procedure all criteria, both from VU-GSSS and the project itself, will be taken into account. The supervisor (promotor) of the proposed candidate sends all necessary documentation to VU-GSSS for further admission and registration of the PhD candidate.
    2. All other PhD candidates are external. They will fund their project either through a(foreign) bursary, public organization, company or privately. External PhD’s should find a supervisor and formally request admission through our online application form. Make sure to include all necessary attachments as we won’t be able to proceed incomplete applications. Your application will be assessed by the Graduate School and our Assessment Board and the candidate will be informed about their decision as soon as possible. 
      VU-GSSS advises a preferential starting date (September 1) for all PhD’s in order to facilitate participation in the 1st year PhD education program. In order to proceed your application it is therefore recommended to submit your documents before 1 April.

    In case you have any questions about the application procedure please contact us through: 

  • Registration

    After admission all PhD candidates need to register with VU through Hora Finita. The process of registration, monitored by VU-GSSS, needs to be completed within two months of the admission date. PhD candidates receive a letter of acceptance after completing the registration procedure.

  • PHD Programme - Training

    The VU-GSSS PhD programme is designed to support PhD candidates linked to the various departments of the VU Faculty of Social Sciences in their project progress and individual development. Please note that all PhD candidates who are officially registered (with Form I) at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam on or after 1 April 2015 are required to fulfil at least 30 EC's (according to the VU Doctorate Regulations). PhD candidates who completed a Research Master of Science (2 years, MASc) in the Social Sciences or Behavioral Science (i.e., Psychology) receive a dispensation of 20 EC; 10 EC is required, to be used flexibly.

    For details on the requirements and recommendations for the PhD training plan see the PhD Information document.

    VU-GSSS courses
    The VU-GSSS PhD education program is designed such that PhD candidates can fulfil their 30 EC internally. VU-GSSS offers a general course program and a program specifically tailored to the needs of external PhD candidates. In addition, individual PhD candidates, or small groups of up to five participants, can organize tutorials.

    For more details regarding the courses, please see our Study Guide, §3 and §4.

    External courses
    Depending on individual needs and wishes, PhD candidates can also follow courses outside the VU-GSSS program, provided they are at least research master or PhD candidates’ level. These may be courses and workshops offered at other VU faculties, in (inter)national research schools, or in VU Interfaculty Research Institutes. The VU-GSSS has an agreement for exchange of course participation free of charge with ABRI (VU) and AISSR (UVA).

    For more details regarding the external courses, please see our Study Guide, §5.

    Graduate Fund
    In order to support PhD candidates to orientate themselves internationally and to promote a broad academic development, VU-GSSS provides financial support through the VU-GSSS Graduate Fund. Internal PhD candidates can apply for various international activities, for instance for attending a summer school, presenting a paper at an international conference or workshop, participation in international education abroad, or conduct of fieldwork or a research stay at a foreign university. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis and reviewed monthly.

    For more details regarding the Graduate Fund, please see our Guidelines Graduate Fund.

  • PHD Programme - Research

    Training and Supervision Plan
    To ensure a proper start of the project the PhD candidate and the supervisor(s) come to an agreement on the project plan in a so called Training-and Supervision Plan (TSP). The TSP is an obligatory part of the PhD trajectory, completed by the PhD candidate and the supervisor and co-supervisor(s). The plan must be finalized and signed by all parties within the first 2 months of the date of admission.

    For details regarding the TSP, please see our Information Document §4.1.

    Go / No-go Product
    Eight months after the start of a PhD project, the candidates’ project progress is assessed on the basis of a so-called go/no-go product. For candidates with other obligations this term can be extended to submitting a product within the first year, if this is agreed upon in the TSP.

    For details regarding the 8 Month Product, please see our Information Document §4.2.

    Half way assessment

    PhD candidates who are about halfway through their PhD trajectory will carry out a self-monitoring risk inventory & a short meeting between the PhD candidate and one of the Graduate School Program Managers.

    Annual Progress report
    The annual progress report is essential in monitoring the progress and development of the research. The supervisors report progress to the department. The PhD candidate is required to submit their own separate annual progress report directly to VU-GSSS.

    For details regarding the Annual Progress Report, please see our Information Document §4.3.

    Completion of the PhD trajectory: from dissertation to defense
    Once a PhD candidate has finished writing the dissertation a number of steps are required before the actual PhD title is obtained.

     -  Obtaining a required PhD Training Certificate; 
      -  Assign Thesis Committee; 
      -  Assessment Procedure; 
      -  Defense.

    For more information, please see the Information Document §4.2.2 and §4.4.3.

  • Courses

    Confirmed course dates 2021-2022 (For more information and registration click on the course names)

    Courses starting in fall 2021: 

    Presenting in Academic English - Abby Gambrel - The registration for this course has passed. You can follow the course again in the fall of 2022. 

    Research Integrity and Responsible Scholarship – dr. Rene Bekkers, dr. Loraine Nencel, dr. Ivar Vermeulen - The registration for this course has passed. You can follow the course again in the spring of 2022. 

    How to Publish and Write Journal Article – prof. dr. Kathy Davis, dr. Loes Aaldering - The registration for this course has passed. You can follow the course again in the fall of 2022. 

    Prepare your defense (Mandatory for last year PhD candidates) 
    Session 1: 7 October 2021 (14.00-15.30) 
    Session 2: 9 December 2021 (18.00-21.00) 
    Session 3: TBC, in the evening 
    Session 4: depending on your paranymph

    Proposal Design and Writing - dr. Caroline van Dullemen, dr. Ineke Nagel - The registration for this course has passed. You can follow the course again in the fall of 2022. 

    Writing a Data Management Plan - Jolien Scholten - The registration for this course has passed. You can follow the course again in the fall of 2022. 

    Statistics: Finding Typologies in Data – An Introduction to Cluster Analysis and Latent Variable Modelling – dr. Paulina Pankowska  - Last minute sign up
    Session 1: Friday, 29 October 2021 (14.00-16.00) 
    Session 2: Friday, 5 November 2021 (14.00-16.00) 
    Session 3: Friday, 12 November 2021 (14.00-16.00) 
    Session 4: Friday, 19 November 2021 (14.00-16.00) 
    Session 5: Friday, 26 November 2021 (14.00-16.00) 
    Session 6: Friday, 3 December 2021 (14.00-16.00)

    Key Thinkers in Social Science – dr. Patrick Overeem 
    Session 1: Thursday, 4 November 2021 (15.00-16.30) 
    Session 2: Thursday, 11 November 2021 (15.00-16.30) 
    Session 3: Thursday, 18 November 2021 (15.00-16.30) 
    Session 4: Thursday, 25 November 2021 (15.00-16.30) 
    Session 5: Thursday, 2 December 2021 (15.00-16.30) 

    Courses starting in winter 2021: 

    Mastering Content Analysis: introduction to Atlas.ti  - Dr. Kate Negacz, Cornelia Fast 
    Session 1: 01 December 2021 
    Session 2: 03 December 2021 

    Data Science: Visualizations in R – dr. Mariken van der Velden 
    Session 1: Monday, 24 January 2022 (13.00-17.00) 
    Session 2: Wednesday, 26 January 2022 (13.00-17.00) 
    Session 3: Friday, 28 January 2022 (13.00-17.00) 

    Writing Academic English – Intermediate and Advanced – dr. Hatice Celebi, dr. Gea Dreschler 
    Session 1: Wednesday, 2 February 2022 (13.30-16.15) 
    Session 2: Friday, 4 February 2022 (13.30-16.15) 
    Session 3: Wednesday, 9 February 2022 (13.30-16.15) 
    Session 4: Friday, 11 February 2022 (13.30-16.15) 
    Session 5: Wednesday, 16 February 2022 (13.30-16.15) 
    Session 6: Friday, 18 February 2022 (13.30-16.15) 

    Minto Workshop: Reporting Data and Writing Introductions – dr. Onno Bouwmeester 
    Session 1: Thursday, 17 February 2022 (15.30-18.15) 
    Session 2: Thursday, 3 March 2022 (15.30-18.15) 
    Session 3: Thursday, 17 March 2022 (15.30-18.15) 
    Session 4: Thursday, 31 March 2022 (15.30-18.15) 

    Courses starting in autumn 2022: 

    Attractive Academic Writing – dr. Gea Dreschler 
    Session 1: Tuesday, 1 March 2022 (13.30-15.30) 
    Session 2: Friday, 4 March 2022 (13.30-15.30) 
    Session 3: Tuesday, 8 March 2022 (13.30-15.30) 
    Session 4: Friday, 11 March 2022 (13.30-15.30) 

    Doing Biographical Research – prof. dr. Kathy Davis 
    Session 1: Wednesday, 2 March 2022 (13.00-16.00) 
    Session 2: Wednesday, 9 March 2022 (13.00-16.00) 
    Session 3: Wednesday, 16 March 2022 (13.00-16.00) 
    Session 4: Wednesday, 23 March 2022 (13.00-16.00) 
    Session 5: Wednesday, 30 March 2022 (13.00-16.00) 
    Session 6: Wednesday, 6 April 2022 (13.00-16.00) 
    Session 7: Wednesday, 13 April 2022 (13.00-16.00) 

    Selected Qualitative Methods - dr. ir. Kees Boersma and dr. Giulia Sinatti
    Session 1:  Thursday, 10 March 2022 (10.00-12.00)
    Session 2:  Thursday, 17 March 2022 (10.00-12.00)
    Session 3:  Thursday, 24 March 2022 (10.00-12.00)
    Session 4:  Thursday, 31 March 2022 (10.00-12.00)
    Session 5:  Thursday, 7 April 2022 (10.00-12.00)
    Session 6:  Thursday, 14 April 2022 (10.00-12.00)

    Rise & Shine: How to present your academic research – dr. Christine Moser 
    Session 1: Monday, 28 March (9.00-13.00) 
    Session 2: Monday, 4 April (9.00-13.00) 
    Session 3: Monday, 11 April (9.00-13.00) 

    Collecting, Analyzing and Writing with Qualitative Data – prof. dr. Barbara Risman 
    Session 1: Monday, 31 May 2022 (9.00-12.00 and 13.00-15.00) 
    Session 2: Thursday, 2 June 2022 (9.00-12.00 and 13.00-15.00) 
    Session 3: Monday, 7 June 2022 (9.00-12.00 and 13.00-15.00) 
    Session 4: Thursday, 9 June 2022 (9.00-12.00 and 13.00-15.00) 

    Training Plan Manual

    All PhD Courses 

  • Events - Pizza sessions and Writing Marathons

    The Graduate School organizes monthly pizza sessions for Ph.D. Candidates. During these social events, we also discuss interesting and relevant topics related to the Ph.D. training. The agenda for the next one held on the 14th of October is to meet our new Program Director, Christine Moser. If you would like to come along, register here.

    Upcoming Pizza sessions:
    18th of November - TBA
    19th of January  - TBA
    3rd of March - TBA
    20th of April - TBA

    PowerPoint presentations of previous sessions: check the VU-GSSS Canvas Community Page (accessible for VU-GSSS PhD candidates)

    The GSSS also organizes Writing Marathons at inspiring, easy to reach locations. Last year, due to the pandemic we organized Online Writing Marathons which were also great successes. Therefore, now we would like to ask for your opinions and needs for the Writing Marathons coming up in 2021/2022. Please fill in this short survey regarding upcoming events, or come along to the next pizza session where we will also discuss how could the Graduate School further support your PhD training. 

  • PHD Trustee

    The VU-GSSS PhD is Dr. Lorraine Nencel:

                “I am at the Department of Sociology, associate professor who considers the time of being a PhD candidate a special moment in an individual’s academic career. I have much experience in teaching and advising PhDs of all disciplines. I have trained PhDs in a national program in South Africa for 10 years, trained PhDs in a Dutch national research program for 10 years and these experiences brought home to me the importance of having a good relationship between the supervisor and the candidate to guarantee a successful and pleasurable trajectory. These experiences gave me insight into the needs, desires and demands of PhD candidates something I hope to be able to use in my new function. I am looking forward to meeting you all and remember my door is always open (with an appointment of course😊).”

    You can contact Lorraine for a low profile and confidential conversation in case you are facing issues that hinder the progress of your PhD project.

  • Important documents
  • Who is who in the VU-GSSS?

    Graduate School Management Team

    Prof. Dr. Theo van Tilburg 
    Dr. Christine Moser
    Drs. Saskia Jans
    Alexandra Filius MSc

    Graduate School Advisory Board

    Baris Ertürk, Rosanne Anholt (B&P), Jop Koopman (SCA), Lise Woensdregt, Miriam Ocadiz (SOC), Marrije Prins, Robert Larruina, Yentl Dudink, Marrije Prins, Annika Nieper (ORG).

    PhD buddies

    Communication Science (CW): Britta Brugman
    Organization Sciences (ORG): Bas Becker
    Political Science and Public Administration (BP): Nina Onopriychuk
    Social and Cultural Anthropology (SCA): Caroline van Slobbe en Herbert Ploegman
    Sociology (SOC): Maria Rast

    PhD Trustee

    Dr. Lorraine Nencel:

News and Events

  • Induction for new PhD candidates

    During the Ph.D. Induction Conference, all first-year Ph.D. candidates are welcomed and introduced to the Faculty of Social Sciences. During this 1,5-day program Ph.D. candidates will learn about the people, research, and organization of the Faculty in general, and about Ph.D. issues and practicalities in particular. This year’s induction will take place on the 29th (including Conference dinner) and 30th September 2021, in a wonderful location in the Amsterdamse Bos (Bostheater). All incoming Ph.D. candidates from the last academic year are invited to join the conference dinner. If you are a first or second-year Candidate please check your inbox for the invitation or get in touch with the Graduate School.

    Preliminary Program 29/9/2021:

    12:00-13:00 Lunch

    13:00-16:00 GS introduction (incl coffee break) *online participation possible if needed

    16:00 second-year Ph.D.’s will join

    16:00-17:00 Meet Lorraine (Ph.D. Trustee)

    17:00-18:00 Drinks (incl Pubquiz)

    18:00-20:00 Diner

    Program 30/09/2021:

    09:30-12:30 ONLINE Workshop Efficiency Skills and Project Management in Ph.D. Projects – trainer: Ellis Vyth (Hertz Training for Scientists)

  • Sign up here for the upcoming Writing Marathon!

    The Graduate School of Social Sciences is hosting a Writing Marathon within the RECONNECT@THECAMPUS program.
    PhD’s from all faculties are welcome to join.
    Date: 16 November 2021
    Location: NU 02A53 (and NU 02A55)
    Sign up here!
    For those who are not familiar with the concept: a writing marathon is nothing more and nothing less than a ‘shut-up-and write’ session. The idea of a writing marathon is that we come together with a group of PhDs for a whole day to write. At the beginning of this day, you formulate your writing goals. At the end of the day, you reflect on them. During the breaks there is room to share struggles, tips and tricks with your peers.   The thought behind these elements of the writing marathon is that it enables you to begin and end the writing process more easily. First, when everyone around you starts writing and stays silent and concentrated, it becomes more appealing to do the same (don’t we all need some peer pressure?). Second, you do not work until you are completely worn out, but until the clock tells you to stop – at which point you probably still have some energy and ideas left for when you get back to your computer. Of course, structure and peer pressure do not work for everyone, but you never know until you try :-).
    Check out the schedule below.
    9:00-9:15 Morning Coffee: start the day together, set our goals for the day and work on our own project/tasks
    9:30 write
    11:15 coffee/tea break
    11:30 write
    12:00 Lunch and short walk around campus
    13:00 write
    15:00 coffee/tea break
    15:15 write
    17:00 evaluate the day and call it a day together
    17:30 WEEKEND
    Lunch will be provided. Please bring your own laptop.  

  • Call for Editors!

    For the Socializing Science Blog we are looking for two enthusiastic PhD’s.   

    About Socializing Science
    The VU-GSSS Socializing Science website provides an online platform for all PhD candidates within the VU Faculty of Social Sciences. On this Socializing Science website PhD candidates can post blogs about their own research, scientific research they read, hear about in colloquia, and reflect on other relevant PhD issues. The Socializing Science website aims to create a lively platform showcasing the work of PhD candidates both within and outside the faculty and to facilitate the valorization of scientific knowledge. Moreover, writing blogs gives PhD candidates the opportunity to publish, albeit in an informal manner, at an early point in their PhD trajectories, to build a reputation, and to practice writing by explaining scientific research to a broader audience.   

    Tasks of the editors include:
    -          Attract new bloggers (we aim for 8-12 blogposts each academic year)
    -          Coordinate the review process
    -          Maintain the blog page
    -          Maintain the social media accounts
    -          Review incoming blogposts 

    Editors can claim up to €800 from the Graduate Fund as compensation.   
    Interested? Write a short proposal with your plans for the Socializing Blogs to